Ecuadorians vote to end oil drilling in parts of the Amazon
Aug 25, 2023
Ecuadorians voted Sunday to end oil drilling in a protected area of the Amazon, with about 60 percent of voters rejecting a referendum on oil exploration in Block 43, which is part of the Yasuní National Park.
As of early Monday, more than 90 percent of the votes had been counted, and about 6 in 10 rejected the measure. Rejection of the measure would mean the state oil company, Petroecuador, will be required to dismantle its drilling operations in the next months.
In a statement, Petroecuador said it would refrain from commenting on the referendum until the ballots are all counted, but that the company plans to comply with the decision of the Ecuadorian people.
The vote is a significant blow to President Guillermo Lasso, who has supported oil drilling efforts, noting that its revenue is important to the country’s economy. Petroecuador produces nearly 60,000 barrels a day in the Yasuní National Park, and Block 43 alone contributes $1.2 billion to the country’s annual federal budget.
The vote also marks a significant step toward safeguarding a region that’s home to several indigenous groups, including the Tagaeri and Taromenane, who live in voluntary isolation, and is a hotspot of biodiversity.
The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) designated the Yasuní National Park and nearby areas a world biosphere reserve in 1989. The area encompasses about 2.5 million acres and includes 610 bird species, 139 amphibian species and 121 reptile species. At least three are endemic.
“Ecuadorians have come together for this cause to provide a life opportunity for our Indigenous brothers and sisters and also to show the entire world, amidst these challenging times of climate change, that we stand in support of the rainforest,” Nemo Guiquita, a leader of the Waorani tribe, said in a phone interview with The Associated Press.
The vote also only applies to a section of the Amazon region. Oil production continues in other sections of the Yasuní National Park and other indigenous territories.
The Associated Press contributed.
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